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Our industry is ever-changing. Get insights and perspective from our experts as we share our knowledge and experience on how to successfully navigate the marketing landscape.

Jen Herbert, Senior Strategist at AMP

 

I haven’t been to Disney World since I was eight, but this year I was fortunate enough to go to South by Southwest (SXSW), which I have now dubbed “Disneyland for Adults.” When I wasn’t busy presenting with the rest of the fierce AMP team for our participation in   YouTube’s SXSW Creative Agency Challenge, or being distracted by the puppies at the Amazon Prime activation and the endless CBD-related samples at the wellness expo, I promise I was putting on my Brand Strategist hat and attending a wealth of panels and keynotes with my colleague and SXSW partner-in-crime, Andie, AMP’s Director of Business Development.  


The best part was listening to speakers with such diversity in perspective, and realizing that all of these accomplished individuals offered a unique method for building and strengthening a brand tribe: through social impact, play, internal creativity, and centering the customer experience around a singular emotional benefit.


While we’ve been hearing about “brand community” for some time, “brand tribe” is a relatively new term in Marketing, yet it’s important because it denotes a much deeper relationship between brand and customer. While a member of a brand community need only participate on occasion, perhaps via a purchase or a ‘like’ on Instagram, a member of a brand tribe wholly believes in that brand. Connection with that brand becomes an outward expression of one’s identity to the rest of the world. Brand tribe members wear merchandise, create user-generated Social content, join loyalty programs, go on auto-pay plans, and, perhaps most importantly, recruit others to join the tribe too.


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Building A Brand Tribe Through Social Impact


Study after study has proven that in 2019, consumers want to back brands that share their values and create a positive change in the world. That being said, brands can’t talk at customers about the good they’re doing; they need to work with their customers to spread good together. As panelists during How Brands Can Engage the Social Impact Generation outlined, social impact must be participatory.


One panelist, Viveka Hulyalkar, Co-Founder and CEO of Beam, has developed a customer engagement platform that partners with a given company, say, a fast-casual salad stand. The salad company decides how much they’re willing to donate per purchase and a cause they would like to support, such as third world female education. Customers can then log into the app to track how each salad purchased gets them closer to buying a textbook for a young girl. Another panelist, Helena Hounsel, Social Media Manager at Brandless, offered an example of how a brand tribe of activists can be built on Social: “Rather than spending International Women’s Day showing how your company volunteered at a women’s nonprofit, why don’t you instead ask your audience which women are inspiring them this holiday?”


By rallying around causes that your brand and your customers share a passion for, and then providing a platform for your customers to become ambassadors for the cause, your social impact becomes experiential and your brand tribe becomes united around a higher purpose.


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Building A Brand Tribe Through Play


All work and no play makes a brand’s tribe very dull. IBM’s Dr. John Cohn reminded us of that in his session, Prioritizing Play in an Automated Age, where he outlined how making room to play can smooth the bumps during life’s tough disruptions. During the talk, Dr. Cohn told us about play projects of his, like an 18-foot tall animatronic pumpkin man as well as an art car built for Burning Man. He recounted how droves of people, some of whom then became his fellow creators, were drawn to his projects while they were being built and shown off to the world.


In other words, play can help you find your brand tribe, in a very “if you build it, they will come” kind of way. Through your bravery to look silly and/or fail, and your willingness to surrender to wonder for no reason other through indulging curiosity, your brand will show its authenticity and customers who identity a similar raison d’être in themselves will be drawn to you naturally.


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Sure, you might be saying, A wacky scientist from IBM can have a little fun, but how can brands? Let’s not forget this Southwest flight attendant who transformed the safety demonstration into a burlesque performance, or KFC apologizing for running out of chicken with an on-the-nose newspaper ad featuring its carton respelt as FCK.


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Building A Brand Tribe Through Internal Creativity


It is often hard for brands to prioritize looking inward, to their own company culture and values, when there are always so many externally-focused tasks to complete. The beloved bakery Milk Bar, however, is proof that the spirit of brands that cultivate internal creativity will always shine through and be felt externally by customers.

 

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During Innovation in Pursuit of the Unexpected, Christina Tosi, cookie-baker extraordinaire and company founder, along with her agency partner, Michael Greenblatt of REDSCOUT, reflected on how the Milk Bar brand toolkit is a toolkit in the truest sense of the word. Through the codified system of the color palette, off-kilter logo placement, branded pastry box tape, and decorative stamps, Milk Bar employees at locations around the country are encouraged to leverage their creativity to use the tools as they’d wish. For example, the Milk Bar team suggested designing the delivery truck to look like it was covered in the Milk Bar tape; others use the logo and colors to bedazzle denim jackets and beanies that they wear to work.


This DIY spirit has created a tribe of Milk Bar devotees. Because employees are welcome to live and breathe the brand uniquely, customers also view the brand as a living and breathing thing to interact with–for example by holding up a cup of “cereal milk” soft serve to a pretty background for the perfect Instagram, or by decorating their laptop in Milk Bar stickers.


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Building A Brand Tribe Through Creation of “Brand Feeling”


Lastly, it’s easy to get bogged down in lifting brand metrics. Yet during Following the Feeling: Creating Brand Value, Columbia University lecturer Kai Wright argues that the most important brand metric is how you make others feel. After all, Wright noted, humans make 95% of our daily decisions on “auto-pilot,” rather than weighing pros and cons in order to choose the best and most rational choice, with emotions influencing nearly 70% of our decision-making.


He cited brands who have expertly structured their brand “LAVEC”– lexicon, audio cues, visual stimuli, experience, and culture– around a singular brand feeling. Take Disney, whose feeling of “happiness” is supported by audio cues like fireworks and visual stimuli like wearing the iconic mouse ears, or Gatorade, whose feeling of “endurance” is brought to life through the lexicon of calling its products “fuel.”


If a customer can rely on your brand not just for great products or services, but for a guaranteed emotional experience, your brand tribe is then powered by the strength of shared human connection.

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Approximately 95 million photos and videos are uploaded to Instagram everyday. Could you sort the edited from the non-edited? The staged from the candid? These days, not many can, which is why anti-Instagram social platforms such as BeReal, Poparazzi, and Locket are dominating the social media space as users, especially Gen Z’ers, seek ways to authentically stay connected with their friends. The purpose of these apps is to break away from the edited photos and faux lifestyles and give a more authentic view of users’ day-to-day life. Let’s take a closer look at a few of these up-and-coming social media apps.  BeReal encourages users to keep it real. Once a day, all BeRealers get a notification from the app at the same time to post their photo of the day. The app gives users two minutes to take a photo with both the front and back-facing camera at the same time. It’s currently ranked #1 in the social networking category on the App Store, and approximately 6.8 million people have downloaded BeReal and downloads have grown by 315% in 2022.  Poparazzi is deemed the “anti-selfie” app. It has no likes, no followers, and only your friends can post photos on your feed. It performed incredibly well in its first year of launch as it quickly skyrocketed to the top of the App Store, even ahead of TikTok as the number one social media platform. Although this unseating was temporary, the app remains successful and popular. Since its 2021 launch, it has been downloaded more than 5 million times, with over 100 million photos and videos shared.    Locket is for your closest friends only– 20 of them to be exact. When a friend sends their photo, it instantly appears in your Locket widget and displays directly on your home screen. Unlike a regular app, widgets are continuously running and you don’t need to click on it to start the program. You can respond to friends with your own photo that will appear on the Locket widget of their phone’s home screen. As you use Locket, you’ll build a history of photos that you’ll be able to look back on. Locket is also quickly rising in popularity, currently ranked 11th in the social networking category on the App Store.   Why is it becoming popular to be candid and unfiltered on social media? Social media has been linked to everything from depression and sleep deprivation to anxiety and feelings of loneliness, especially among younger users. “Likes” specifically have become a measure users equate to status and how well you’re actually liked in the real world.  However, Millennials and Gen Z have more access to mental health education than previous generations, and it has become an increasingly important topic amongst younger audiences. Their knowledge about mental health has helped them understand the negative impacts of social media, and in fact, Gen Z has shown a major decline in social media use on every social media platform besides TikTok. They are simply not willing to succumb to the pressure of traditional social media and want to be part of safer, less toxic environments online.  While many younger users have attempted to make their own accounts on Instagram more realistic and less filtered (e.g. photo dumps), platform updates that flood users’ feeds with unwanted ads and posts from users they don’t follow has pushed them off the app even quicker. They are worn out and losing trust in these big name apps, which is leading developers to create new apps with more authentic purposes, and let me tell you, Gen Z loves them.    What does this mean for brands? Takeaway 1: Users are seeking relatability and authenticity. They no longer want to see glossy, branded content from brands on social media– they want to see content that looks real, even on Instagram. It’s important that brands keep this at the center of their content strategy and when they consider who they partner with (other brands, influencers, etc).  Takeaway 2: While the way brands can get involved in the conversation will certainly vary from app to app, the best way we’ve seen brand utilize anti-Instagram apps like BeReal so far is by offering its consumers some type of exclusive offer or look at some behind the scenes with the brand or its products. For example, Chipotle’s first Bereal post offered a promo code to the first 100 users who used it at checkout on the Chipotle app.  Takeaway 3: If a brand is looking to be a part of the conversation on one of the anti-Instagram apps, they must recognize the fine line between being relatable and being cringey. Trying too hard will drive users away, which is especially important to remember when getting involved in an emerging platform or even just jumping on trends to create culturally-relevant content. One thing we're asking ourselves: do these apps represent the next wave of social media? That may be the case. We are tracking the latest and greatest closely (while using the apps ourselves). Time will tell and we can't wait to see what's next.

     The upcoming Google chrome changes have been a buzzing topic in the programmatic advertising industry for almost over two years now, pushing brands and vendors to build alternative solutions to audience behavior tracking and targeting. Many businesses have been successful in finding ways to target without using cookies. Samantha Weiss, VP of Data Strategy and Programmatic, recently sat down with Venture Beat to talk about how our client, Stop & Stop, has been using Artificial Intelligence to target audiences.      “AMP began testing cookie-less solutions in the back half of 2021 to prepare for the eventual deprecation of third-party cookies. We believed it was critical to test new targeting while we had long standing targeting and measurement capabilities to benchmark against. We knew it would be incredibly important to hit the ground running, rather than begin testing once third party-cookies were no longer available. Google’s recent announcement delaying the removal of third party-cookies to the back half of 2024 anchors our position on preparing for the cookie less world.  We are excited for the additional time as capabilities & betas continue to be introduced and opened. We will use the extension to focus not on what we are losing with the deprecation of cookies, but rather how we create optimized and efficient media plans with the targeting that is available.      One partner we have seen great success with is Dstillery. We partnered with Dstillery in Q4 of 2021 to test their ID free Custom AI Solution.  We saw strong results in our e-commerce campaigns, outperforming cookie-based audiences by 72%.  With Google’s first extension, we have iterated on the models and data utilized for the ID Free segments.  With the added time, we are excited to continue to optimize the segments and move these audiences from testing budgets to always on targeting capabilities.” - Samantha Weiss (VP, Data Strategy & Programmatic) Read the full Venture Beat article here.

In our continuing series of examining Google Search Trends to gain insights into the top keywords queried in the USA, we present our findings for June 2022. Every day, we capture the top three keyword phrases in terms of search volume as reported by Google Trends (US Only). Each term has an estimated query volume attached to it, which we also record. The number scale tops out at 10,000,000+ with a lower limit of 200,000+ (sometimes 100,000+). After the conclusion of the month, we look at the phrases we collected along with their volumes to get an understanding of what drove queries for the month. Lazy, Hazy Days of June 2022 As we collected the top three queries from Google’s Daily Search Trends, we noticed that the aggregated sum for June was not as large as the first 5 months of the year.  We know what we collect is only a sample of the total number of Google searches conducted in a day, but we had the pleasant feeling that maybe people were spending more time outside, in real life, and less time using devices.  Hey, it could be true. Looking through the data, we can see that the Supreme Court overturning of the Roe vs. Wade decision was the biggest news story of the month. In Entertainment news, the conclusion of the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard court case and the disorder affecting Justin Bieber drove people to search. The NBA and NHL had their Finals in the month of June and we’ll examine the phrases attached to both of those league’s playoff and championship series. We’ll delve into Doodles, holidays, TV shows, film trailers, award shows, and the latest economic woes.  Lastly, we will analyze the curious case of June 6th.   All right - let’s go.   Google Holiday Doodles Those clicks on Google’s altered logo get counted as queries. Check out the top Doodle driven queries for June 2022: Father's day - 6/18/2022 - 10,000,000+ queries Juneteenth - 6/19/2022 - 10,000,000+ queries Juneteenth gets a Doodle this year as it did last year.  This national holiday occurred on the Monday after Father’s Day in 2022, which also got its own Doodle.    More Holiday Queries Continuing the theme of holiday queries, we present the rest of the non-Doodle driven phrases here: When is Father's Day - 6/3/2022 - 100,000+ queries Is Juneteenth a federal holiday - 6/19/2022 - 200,000+ queries Happy Father's Day - 6/19/2022 - 100,000+ queries Summer solstice 2022 - 6/20/2022 - 500,000+ queries Father’s Day gets 2 appearances in the Daily Top 3 outside of the Doodle-attached query.  It’s interesting to see people asking when the holiday was happening. What we have seen over the past 3 years of data collection is that the search volume attached to Mother’s Day is more than the search volume attached to Father’s Day. We looked into the charts over the last 5 years and we found something interesting:   The search interest gap seems to be closing. The two peaks appear to be closer in 2022 as compared to previous years. We’re not sure why this trend is happening but the two holidays are becoming more equitable in terms of search interest.   A question about Juneteenth’s federal holiday status, which it became in 2021, and the first official day of summer round out our list for this keyword category.   All The Entertainment Here are the shows and films people were excited about in June 2022: The Boys - 6/2/2022 - 200,000+ queries Ms Marvel - 6/7/2022 - 200,000+ queries Hustle - 6/8/2022 - 200,000+ queries Spiderhead - 6/17/2022 - 200,000+ queries Hocus Pocus 2 - 6/28/2022 - 200,000+ queries Stranger Things' Season 4 - 6/30/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Season 3 of The Boys and the miniseries Ms. Marvel debuted last month. June was a big month for Netflix. Two films distributed by the streaming service spurred strong search interest -  Adam Sandler’s film Hustle and the science fiction psychological thriller film, Spiderhead. At the end of the month, part 2 of Stranger Things’ Season 4 was made available. Finally, the trailer of the Hocus Pocus sequel made the daily top 3 on June 28th. People still like awards shows enough to use Google to learn more about them.   Tony Awards 2022 - 6/12/2022 - 500,000+ queries BET Awards 2022 - 6/26/2022 - 200,000+ queries Although the search volumes are not what they were before the pandemic, both these award shows had a search resurgence in 2022.     We may not ever see the pre-pandemic search volume come back for award shows but they are showing signs of life.   To wrap up our entertainment-related phrase examination, both of these phrases were queried over five million times within a 24 hour period in June. Johnny Depp - 6/1/2022 - 5,000,000+ queries Ramsay Hunt syndrome - 6/10/2022 - 5,000,000+ queries The first of the month had the verdict of the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard trial and Justin Bieber explained that he is suffering from Ramsay Hunt syndrome and needs to postpone dates.  We hope he gets back on the road soon.  His concert tour was named as a top entertainment topic for this summer in our Top Trends for Summer 2022 report.   Roe vs. Wade We discussed it in our May report that we would be monitoring the search volume for this Supreme Court decision and here’s what we collected: Supreme Court decisions today - 6/21/2022 - 200,000+ queries Roe vs Wade - 6/23/2022 - 5,000,000+ queries Roe vs Wade - 6/24/2022 - 10,000,000+ queries This topic dominated the search trends report for 3 days as people were trying to learn more about the court’s decision.  We will keep tracking other key SCOTUS decisions as the year continues. Stephen Breyer - 6/29/2022 - 500,000+ queries Stephen Breyer retired as a Supreme Court Justice and Ketanji Brown Jackson filled his seat on the bench.    The January 6th hearings continued in June 2022 and this witness drove people to search. Cassidy Hutchinson - 6/27/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Cassidy’s testimony was held on the 27th which drove people to learn more about her and what she had to say under oath.   Sports The NBA finals were held in June and here’s the timeline of the queries related to the championship series: NBA Finals - 6/2/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Warriors - 6/5/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Golden State Warriors - 6/5/2022 - 500,000+ queries NBA - 6/8/2022 - 5,000,000+ queries NBA - 6/10/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Celtics - 6/10/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Draymond Green - 6/11/2022 - 100,000+ queries Klay Thompson - 6/16/2022 - 200,000+ queries Draymond Green - 6/17/2022 - 200,000+ queries We were rooting for a different outcome here in the AMP Boston office but we look forward to next year.   The Stanley Cup Playoffs and Finals also occurred last month. Check out this timeline of queries leading up to the eventual winner. Rangers - 6/4/2022 - 200,000+ queries Rangers - 6/8/2022 - 200,000+ queries Colorado Avalanche - 6/15/2022 - 500,000+ queries Colorado Avalanche - 6/24/2022 - 500,000+ queries NHL - 6/25/2022 - 500,000+ queries Tampa Bay Lightning - 6/25/2022 - 200,000+ queries Colorado Avalanche - 6/26/2022 - 200,000+ queries Congrats to the Colorado Avalanche for their win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. The NHL may not be as popular as the NBA from a search volume perspective, but the post-pandemic search timeline was nice to see.   Economic Woes With inflation, cryptocurrency values tanking, and the stock market dropping, what else could happen. Oh yeah, mortgage rates are rising. Bitcoin price - 6/12/2022 - 500,000+ queries Stock market - 6/13/2022 - 500,000+ queries Mortgage rates - 6/15/2022 - 500,000+ queries   None of these three phrases were queried over a million times in a day so we guess people weren’t that concerned or only a certain percentage of the population was concerned.   Weather Warnings Beyond Doodles, Google’s daily trends report can get skewed by user clicks on weather warnings.  We present the top queries related to weather in June 2022: Yellowstone National Park - 6/13/2022 - 500,000+ queries Excessive heat warning - 6/13/2022 - 500,000+ queries Severe thunderstorm warning - 6/14/2022 - 500,000+ queries The Yellowstone keyword is related to a flood that happened on the 13th. The other two phrases are related to mobile phone alerts that become queries when clicked on.  Weather-related keywords are making the daily top 3 more often.  There may be an idea of a 2022 retrospective in the works.   What Was Up With June 6th? The daily top three was made up of phrases related to popular tech companies. Apple - 6/6/2022 - 500,000+ queries Google Docs - 6/6/2022 - 500,000+ queries LinkedIn - 6/6/2022 - 500,000+ queries Apple had their 2022 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC22) on the 6th, which does drive searches from people seeking the latest from the company. The other two queries, we believe, were related to outages.  LinkedIn was reportedly down on the 6th.  We don’t see any evidence of Google Docs not being available on the 6th, but that’s our guess based on the history of this phrase. Did the Apple conference cause outages?  One may never know.   Thanks for reading. If you liked this article, we utilize search trends data for all of our clients and we invite you to learn more about our SEO services. Until next month.